Is an American Mastiff the Right Breed For You?
You're interested in an American Mastiff. Owning an American Mastiff can be the beginning
of a wonderful relationship with years of happiness or it can be the beginning
of overwhelming responsibility for which you may not be prepared.
American Mastiffs are one of the largest of the dog breeds and can range in size from
29 inches to 35 inches at the shoulder. They weigh anywhere from
130 pounds to 200+ pounds. Once they are over their major growing
stage, they will eat between 6-8 cups of high quality food per day.
There are several questions you must ask yourself to determine if you are
ready to become an American Mastiff owner. Answer honestly to insure yourself,
your family, and your American Mastiff the future you all deserve.
Do I Really Want an American Mastiff? Why Do I Want an American Mastiff?
American Mastiffs are wonderful companions. They are not dogs to be left outside
chained to a doghouse or to be left alone in a fenced yard. Oftentimes,
behavioral problems occur when an American Mastiff is not a member of the family but
is relegated to the backyard with only occasional human contact.
American Mastiffs desperately need lots of human companionship to be properly socialized,
trained, and "owned". If your house is too small for a 130-200+ lb. dog,
then an American Mastiff is not the dog for you.
Some American Mastiffs will snore. Are you a light sleeper or one that needs
constant quiet to sleep? If so, you may want to consider another breed.
Some American Mastiffs will pass gas. Would this offend you? If so, you may want to consider another breed.
For a large breed dog, American Mastiffs are relatively "dry mouthed". Our dogs do not drool except sometimes on the following
occasions: when you have an especially yummy treat for them, when they're playing outside on a very hot day, or if they are
taking a walk in the woods with a million new smells. And when they get a drink of water, they tend to drink enthusiastically
and drip a good bit of water around their water bowl.
So if you want absolutey NO drool or mess at any moment in time, you should consider a different breed. But honestly,
our dogs live in the house with us and I personally consider them non-droolers.
American Mastiffs are wonderful with children. They are very gentle and
quite tolerant of ear and tail pulls, sitting on their backs (not a good idea),
and they adore licking kids faces. They will protect their children.
However, the swinging of an American Mastiff's tail
can knock a small child over. If you have very small children who
are just learning to walk, you may want to wait until they are older
before getting an American Mastiff.
American Mastiffs are NOT guard dogs. They will protect their family more
along the lines of a watch dog than guard dog. If your intent is to
have a dog that is a guard dog then you must think about another breed.
American Mastiffs will bark and let intruders know they are not accepted.
Their mere presence and bark will scare the bravest of burglars.
Once you accept the guest, chances are good that they will too.
Can I Really Afford To Keep an American Mastiff?
An American Mastiff costs more to maintain than smaller breeds due to its large
size and weight. Larger crates cost more. More and larger
consumables are needed - food, toys and the like. An adult male
American Mastiff can go through 40-70 pounds of dry dog food a month. An American Mastiff,
due to its size, will cost you more money at the Vet's office also.
The antibiotic for a toy poodle may only cost $10.00 but since most dosages
are based on weight, a week's supply of antibiotics for your American Mastiff can cost
upwards of $50 to $100. Heartworm medicine costs more, shots can
sometimes be more costly, etc.
Do I Have Time To Spend Training, Exercising, And Grooming an American Mastiff?
An American Mastiff should have obedience training. After all, do you want to
be pulled down the street, legs streaming behind you, when your 185 lb.
male wants to chase that squirrel? The obedience training must be
the positive reinforcement type. American Mastiffs are very sensitive to
the reactions of their people. Most American Mastiffs can be absolutely
crushed by harsh words. They respond well to love, praise,
and especially treats. The training should not be negatively based.
An American Mastiff should be extensively socialized. This includes taking your
puppy (and later dog) as many places as possible to expose it to many situations, many
different people, and many different dogs. Proper socialization takes
A LOT of time and effort. If you do not have extra time to devote to socializing
your new puppy, you should not purchase an American Mastiff.
Exercising an American Mastiff is not as difficult as exercising one of the various
sporting breeds who seem to have endless energy. An American Mastiff is happy
to go on 2 walks a day of about 20-30 minutes. Some love to hike
and swim, but jogging companions they are not! You should not take them
jogging as it can be very difficult on their joints.
About a mile or so walk twice a day is enough unless it's an older American Mastiff,
then play it by ear. Remember, American Mastiffs are like some of us...
a couch is their idea of the perfect place to spend a day but exercise
is important to keep them fit and help them live longer.
Grooming an American Mastiff is very easy. One to two times per week with a
shedding blade or comb is sufficient. It only needs a bath
when it begins to smell "doggy" (once a month is more than enough) or if it has gotten into something that
needs to be washed off. Bathing an American Mastiff is sort of like washing
a hairy Volkswagen except that the VW won't shake and drench you in shampoo
or rinse water. Cutting nails is important and should be done
regularly. It should be started early in life as wrestling with a
large dog is very interesting! Teeth cleaning should also be done
Will an American Mastiff Fit Into My Lifestyle And My Home?
No matter what, an American Mastiff wants to be with you.
They are devoted to their owners and want to have contact with them
They will follow you from room to room as you do your work.
Some want to touch you all the time.
Do you own a big car or van so your dog can go
for rides with you to the park, beach, post office, Vet's office, etc?
earlier, an American Mastiff is a house dog. A small house is suitable as long
as the dog goes for walks and plays outside. The yard should be
fenced and the American Mastiff obedience-trained through the basics: come, sit,
stay, down, and he should walk on leash without dragging you down the street.
Within your home, American Mastiffs need a place of their own where they will feel
comfortable and secure, just like any other dog. Crates are a practical
solution, especially for puppy house training and safety. Wire
crates are best so that the pup can see out and because they are harder
to chew or destroy. Purchase the largest one you can afford so your
American Mastiff can grow into it. A dog bed by your bed is also a good
idea since they want to be with their families and it is preferable
not to let them sleep on the bed with you. Jumping off of a bed is
not good for the joints when they are young, and when they get older,
space could be an issue!
Are you trying to talk me out of getting an American Mastiff?
Yes and No.
No, because it would be wonderful if everyone could experience the joy
and satisfaction of being owned by one of these Gentle Giants.
Yes, because as great and wonderful as they are, American Mastiffs are not the
right breed for everyone. It would be much, much better if you
found out that a Mastiff wasn't the breed for you NOW instead of after
you've already gotten one.
American Mastiffs are giants and take up a lot of space on the couch and in the
house and car. They have powerful tails that can clean off a coffee
table in one fell swoop or knock a small child down with one wag.
They like to be close to their family and will sit on your feet,
lean against you, often put their paw on you and lay their heavy head in
your lap. They like to follow you wherever you go and be part
of whatever you do. They can block doorways with their huge bodies,
stand in front of the TV and block your view, and take up large amounts
of space with their crates and toys. If you can't handle any of
the above, then an American Mastiff is not the dog for you!
American Mastiffs need to be properly socialized and trained. Do you have time
to devote to taking your American Mastiff many different places, introduce it to
a variety of people and dogs? Do you have time to attend training
classes with your puppy/dog? If you are a very busy person who
doesn't have a lot of free time to devote to your dog, then an American Mastiff
is not the dog for you!
American Mastiffs are not guard dogs, they are watch dogs. They know the
difference between friend and foe and pick up on the emotions of their
owners. They possess the natural ability to defend their family
should the need arise. American Mastiffs are not recommended as a guard
dog for businesses or junkyards because of their instinctual need to
bond with people. The American Mastiff temperament is not suited for
formal "guard dog" training due to their sensitive nature and because
to do so may permanently ruin their temperament.
These are large dogs. They shed an average amount, but they are large and thus have a lot
of hair to shed. And they are messy when they drink water. If you like a perfectly
clean house at every moment, you should consider another breed.
If you are on a tight budget or do not enjoy spending money on your dog,
please reconsider getting this breed. The initial purchase price
of the pup will be the least expensive part of owning an American Mastiff.
However, if you've taken all this into consideration and you are ready
for a dog who will love and adore you and your family members for
all of its life, one who will make you feel like you are the
most special person in the world, one who would do anything within its
power to make you happy, then an American Mastiff would be a wonderful addition to
If you have not met an American Mastiff in person, we highly recommend
visiting a breeder or an owner near you so you can meet this wonderful breed to help
you decide if this is the perfect breed for you and your family.
Owning an American Mastiff is a major responsibility, but they will
reward you a million times over with their love.